“Intelligence Is Never Too Dear” Discuss This Statement by Sir Francis Walsingham with Reference to His Espionage Activities

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On the dawn of the 16th century, England was confronted by a religious reformation. Many Catholics were dissatisfied with the sacrilegious practices developing in the Church, and eventually, a new sect of Christianity – who rejected Roman Catholic doctrines and refused to acknowledge papal authority –developed, known as Protestantism. By the end of Elizabeth’s reign, the Church of England had segregated from the Pope, and the Catholic Church. During the time of the Reformation though, a great hostility grew between Catholics and Protestants, and the battle for power even culminated into the monarchy.

As Elizabeth rose to the throne, Catholics were displeased, as she was a Protestant. The religious battle reached a stage where Mary, Queen of Scots, and other Catholics, conjured a plot to eliminate Elizabeth. If it weren’t for the intelligence gathering of the master spy, Sir Francis Walsingham, the Reformation would have not been complete. The intelligence he sought was so dear, it prevented the death of someone, and led to death of others.

Walsingham began his campaign as part of Queen Elizabeth’s reign in 1559, elected to the House of Commons in Banbury, by apt assistance by his close accomplice, Sir William Cecil. In 1569 and 1570, Walsingham gained the full trust of Queen Elizabeth, by reliably gathering support for the Huegenots, and successfully disassembling the Ridolfi Plot. This establishment of trust preceded Queen Elizabeth’s appointment of Walsingham as Principal Secretary.

In this role, one of Francis Walsingham’s main duties of interest was the art of espionage. Being a staunch Protestant, and a loyal advisor of Elizabeth, Walsingham made it his duty to keep Britain safe by gathering more information about the enemy through whatever means – whether it be from public sources, through secret spies, or extracted via torture. In 1583, the Throckmorton Plot emerged, but was soon dismantled by intelligence gathering by Walsingham and his...
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